I’ve always wanted to believe in the supernatural. As a kid, I loved ghost stories and other supernatural horror stuff (well, I guess I still do, with, you know, writing a zombie novel and all), and I always hoped to discover a ghost or see something like that. I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, but stopped going at 7, but even then I’m not sure how much BELIEF there was in me. I went to Kingdom Hall, but I’m not sure I ever really bought into the actual existence of a god. Maybe it’s just my futuristic atheist self projecting back on the past, but I really don’t remember thinking of it any different than any other stories.
Anyway, ghosts and vampires and whatnot were cooler in any case, and wanted them to be real. I remember reading a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, one that had these Indian spirits killing people in a Western town – totally awesome stuff. I was twelve or so, and I started to pretend I was an Indian Shaman and could feel spirits. I told my mother about the spirits, that I thought I really felt one. Now, my mother was kind and imaginative, but instead of indulging me she just said, “Don’t say that, or else you’ll start believing it.”
Those words had a surprising effect on me. I stopped playing Indian Shaman, and realized that I didn’t really believe it. In any of it, ghosts or Christ or any of that stuff. I felt a little sad, like a bit of wonder had left the world, but the logic of it all was inescapable. If there is no actual evidence of anything, it must not really be there. I think that was the first day I recognized my atheism, even if I didn’t know the word for it.
I still love ghost stories and all that, but they aren’t true. I see people I know that believe in ghosts and attribute random happenings to them, and I just wonder at their sanity. Last night, Lady Aravan and I were on the couch, and the living room fan’s light turned itself on, then off, then flickered a few times. A lot of people would have been convinced right then and there that it was a ghost. I mean, it makes sense; such an occurence is much more likely than, say, a stray signal similar enough to the remote that controls the light, or some sort of electrical thing.
All of the Ghost Hunters and paranormal investigator shows kill me. There was a psychic yesterday on the radio show I listen to in the morning, and only one person said that they didn’t believe in them. It made me sadder than the twelve-year-old who realizes that he doesn’t actually believe in fairy tales.